- Publication date
- [Washington, D.C.] : National Geographic Society
Broadcast on PBS on Jan. 15, 1986. Available for off-air recording by non-profit educational institutions
- Chris Fields Annual National Hard Crab Derby is an end of summer ritual on the lower Eastern Shore the long hours and hard work of the crabbing season and they're going in and then the festive atmosphere is a welcome respite from the grueling routine. Going on but you know they always competitive water been testing each other's nerve and skill in work boat races and docking content. Telling it by. Hand. A highlight of the weekend is the crab picking contest this year's competition is particularly important to Grace Ward. Last year I was in a graphic cactus and I got second place. So I was saying flat after they entered me and it takes you I said well I want first place. Then I begin to pray and I asked a lot of the lawyers I dislike it Donna get in first place this year in a consummate test of manual dexterity the contestants are given fifteen minutes to take as many pounds of crab meat as possible. Love it in the that. THANK. YOU THANK YOU. THANK YOU for answers she does because three quarters do. Thank. You. Worth of always being if we had him on the Jersey shore at the beach every morning we do take a mark jock and we can grow. Regime of exercises we've been seeing in fear OIS for the last few weeks and we fully intend to go home with the governors cup a day old traditional rivalries are stirred as the weekend's namesake events the Hard Crab dirty gets under way and we've got New Jersey and we've got the Virginia now we just have to find a Maryland entries anybody seen him doing over there so I don't I think that I hardly Maryland crab that's been running OK I think they were they were not on the ongoing grad who was at this for a year and then let play well. Well Mark crab he really stayed under a flooring of a boat for five straight days and nights once or scrap. The sunlight he becomes mean and Burke pressing progress was a lot of enthusiasm and he'll run an ad board just to get that sunlight down. And see the flames to jump. Over twelve its flight number seventy number twenty two who eats the Nevada crap looks like it's in when it's hopefully to know before instead of us moving a little bit on the number twelve is not the of number twelve and. Receive. A drive better luck next. Youthful anxiety amounts as contestants prepare for the Miss crustacean beauty pageant. The. Girl world for the old. Joy. Thank. The hundreds. Of everything the but I have got back to College Park I've been setting. Up your sign on academic programs but I had been like the last year with them or why. I enjoy. Showing and I had never dreamed I. Tell you can't even think of anything. Thank God. The day is not solely a place of work or recreation it's a source of knowledge and inspiration for poets artists and folk singer Tom was doing. Tom enjoys sharing with children whether the bay has taught him to get cereal Narses real week now much life left for her for because the real North that's Is this like the nation's capital on the bottom looks like a capital building. And she's taller or color. Very red cloth and a wonderful blue collar underneath the the female flaw. And here's assuming here as the Washington Monument. Saying look. One of the difficult for us to collect the connection with your we have a lot of people who are of study of it to the For me try to teach about it that way but it's the it's the art of it that makes us feel it that way so. You have like a. Drawing photograph whatever way I can get there with some art and it's. Just a fake. I'm a tad The big three. The thing. The the way with you. AHMED The the the the the. American to. Pay her. The. The. And then lavish births by the brain. Nom bring. Her where you. Are losing. The. N.D.P. the that the thing now. To collect songs and stories Tom was never travels to the small towns of the Chesapeake's tide waters at Coles point Virginia he visits his friend Captain was Herbert. I look for people who have lived on the land close to the water because it was a hope to find and then in the process of trying to find a lyric and story about the region. I discovered this something more they give me. It's just presses that's its tempo rhythm. Feeling of unity with the place that comes in their being and bones and they just give that to you just as easy as the second pair is a a a me in the faulty. Seat watch. Us. And she'll. Sell old see Britt first cornbread choice a day. Never get paid back then they didn't and there's no law or might you know you can build a board minute you crew was in the rooms and over the streets in the film like at this to the ball room and get. Down to the. Shot into his drink you know when he wake up in the aborted when the bridge the and then bring him on down the bay and put into we're going to roughly at the biggest even have to get more similar to deliver real police say underage and was with them and when the photo on and their wages was only a two wheeled out of the month. When he worked a group of a couple of months and then to keep from paying them that money for twenty five dollars a day when he did to move the moment board to get rid of it that's the story they tell when I don't know where that really have not I mean Lord knows how many died in the field but I don't remember anybody ever pushing me alone. Originally built as workboats this with Chesapeake log canoe is were inspired by the Indians spoon ended dugouts nearly one hundred years old the island Blossom is race today by men who enjoy preserving a piece of the bay's maritime heritage. Doug Hanks has been racing to news since nine hundred thirty I come from a competitive family ever bind a family wants to do something better than anybody else. We all have to win. Even now I just don't like to sail and if I'm out there I'm looking around for somebody that I can go faster and Eva and were just that way and we don't like to get elected. I don't play she can handle this kind of. He's awful tender and little boat tension all love nowheres Stephanie's race started one P.M. out of wind is pretty high. Y'all be careful out there now you hear. The loop. Holes. In the. Early years always to come back to the log. News because in my opinion to Salem it's far more interesting and demanding than those big boats were killed on the can capture and to say on the brakes you just put another one up but where the canoe you've got to get ready to start learning which is a major operation get add to their race gets through the rain get home I would say the last place what do you want to write. Pushed to the limit the canoes are constantly on the verge of capsizing or sink. For the canoes but to capsize the race is over. Salesman rigging must be removed the boat righted the total the shallows and failed. To you you won't Doug Hanks manages to keep this the no upright. Island blossom stated John seen or Doug thanks again for. We are successful. Problems over seven hundred Thank you thank you and. Every year eight my crew said thanks when are you going to give this up you know there's a limit you prove an overhang or can I say I'm not trying to prove it I just love to do it. I feel blessed to been able to spend most of my life here on Chesapeake Bay enjoying the things that it offers me like sailing. Hunting geese and ducks. Catching fish and crab. More than a million water fall winter on Chesapeake's yours that's wrongs of decent docs are a source of light to the base human residents some people hunt the birds. Others enjoy just watching right. Now right for everyone or the return of the game is an exciting time and involvement with them approaches a mania. The water fall festival in eastern Maryland is the site of the World Championship who score link on. The. Arrival remember waterfowl are attracted to the Beirut weapon open. Area or a lot of disappear under the pressure of human population with all the birds. The babies quiet waterways and sheltered harbors are also in danger. My pleasure craft are replacing the small yards and wooden workbooks. The Bay permeates the lives of its people born during a frenzied northeast storm Willis Harding is nicknamed breezy. I was born and raised right here in this area when I grew up. Here it was almost pristine sort of its I mean the sea grasses line the shores the water was clear you could see ten feet to the bottom you see fish. Swimming around as a young kid is really a joy to be around here we swam all day. Really are a great place to grow up it's a lot different of course so you can see bottom and to see the water and you've got a fish awful hard to catch fish used to same with crabs and oysters. It's sort of a dying way of life. And I expected to get worse before it gets better. The Chesapeake is an enormous sing everything that goes on to the land or into the water and it's sixty four thousand square mile drainage area has the potential of ending up in it. Pesticides agricultural runoff industrial and household waste all contribute to the base complex problems. The men Hayden fishing industry has been biologically fortunate the small fish the industry depends on five all are a bunch of the Chesapeake. When a school of men hate the spot at the boats carrying the fifteen hundred foot long persons that are lower. Permitted to fish the Virginia Waters say a highly mechanized steamers can carry more than a million fish. Directed by spotters an aircraft the purse boat speed to capture schools the main page which may number three hundred thousand. And I don't care for revenge for. Bringing about seventy planes. As a near the type Lee bunch fish the boat separate and race to set the not around. The men are constantly alert to each other's safety net weighs four thousand pounds and flows out of the boat at breakneck speed. Time is of the essence because the fish may panic and break their tight formation. Wrecked by the spotter pilot the person most quickly closed the circle around the base. But the net is joined the circle. As tight a lead weight. Call the Thomas dropped overboard to close the bottom of the purse. Eyebrow a powerful lockups the men haul the net up on the box. Once done entirely by hand it is still strenuous and dangerous sport. Gone forever on the shanty and sang out in sweet strong voice as the nets were rhythmically pulled a for. A few good sets will quickly fill the mother you know a lot of the men returned to port for a few hours with family but for much of the six month mission season the bay in the ship out their only home. Once failed by hand now the fish are pumped into the ship's refrigerated homes but now technology can replace the fisherman's intuitive skills and knowledge gained over a lifetime. As a sock the fish are pumped into the factory where they are processed for they're all in fish. Seldom used as food by man the fisher converted in the materials used in manufacturing margarines lubricants paint synthetic resins and livestock and poultry be. While the menhaden industry has prospered they ice your business has languished in a teenager the Chesapeake produce nearly one hundred twenty million pounds of shocked always debate my one nine hundred eighty it had fallen to just over twenty million five stringently controlled by state laws. Why steering is still very much a family enterprise. Mechanical or papped and songs are permitted in parts of the bay but the bulk of the product still comes from the small hand talking operations of individual Waterman. In Maryland I stood dredging must be done on the sale. This curiosity in the state's fishing laws. Preserves the only fleet of working sailboats in America the Chesapeake Bay Skipjack. Ed finally has been the captain an owner of the Skipjack Stanley Norma since nineteen seventy five it takes one hundred percent of what you've got to to make a living. Nothing less will do. Up until the last few years and a man who was willing to work hard. Could make a decent living on the water. Now man has to work probably a third more hours than a lot harder during those hours to make the same levees were probably more at the mercy of the rest of the world and many people because we depend on the water fall of sustaining our lifestyle and the water quality is totally in control of the industrial world and farmers and developers were developing the shore water for. Boys steers are a hardy species. Highly tolerant of the of a changing natural conditions of the estuary They are however immobile fixed in their homes on the very bottom there are unable to move to avoid disease. Predators are catastrophic changes in their environment. We did real well up until about four years ago and we Scott of felt that we had come to the bottom of a low cycle at that time because most on there was a lot of young oyster growth and it looks like starting around last year we should've started increasing the volume of course to catch it in my own and had a lot of young boys where he came out the first day and they're all that there's nothing we can do about it that would be as immediate as it needs to be to to solve the economic problems of your screen. The crew of six share a percentage of the boats are names given a steady breeze they should make expenses and a good profit. Early in the season one or Easter should be plentiful this day's catch falls far below expectations. The general attitude of most of the Waterman is that the problems we're having now is just a function of Mother Nature and what and that that mother nature of all well off take care of it in the end one or the other. Thank God brought the oysters here in that God took him away and I've taken I think that God brought the ostrich here and that man took them away and not through over harvesting but through poor environmental controls. Aboard the research vessel. Aquarius scientists from the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory are attempting to diagnose some of the day's ills. Ecologist Walter Boynton has studied the Bay for more than a dozen years he is one of the hundreds of dedicated people in Maryland and Virginia. Working in concert to understand and better manage the Chesapeake Bay. Because of the base size and constantly changing condition it's very difficult to generalize about it one thing evident about the Bay is that the comedy an abundance of light are directly related to the quality of the water. Journalist H.L. Mencken terms of day and immense protein factory the Bay has always had a lot of stuff in it. Today the pay is threatened with an overload of proteins and pollutants alike it's been thrown out of balance in the man made precious on it are too great. The solution lies not solely in science and technology but in human management and personal responsibility for the environment everything that is going to be done is being done in the federal programs to help clean the bag and save the bag. Will be just too far in the future to have their effect and I may not may probably not have the facts of improving the bag I may stop it at the level of it that now that I'm not sure that it will get it back to the to the productivities it really should. Mudroom has destroyed did I guess I don't know what you call it an explosion a lot of their natural means. It always just think there's a great place to live. I love it here and sort of a lot of other people and that's just part of our problem. Just. Like. When you got a good news. It's just the people. At the pig. The pig. I'm sure the Big. Brother. The back oh. Yes the big. Chance to break. In with Chad. Blue. Moon has no one to. Whom the news news. To a point the. Poor. If you knew what they. Wore. Blue. The Chesapeake Bay America was born on a charge it's a recreational paradise a vital commercial highway a wildlife sanctuary and the source of life for the rugged man harvest the unique produce of its bounteous waters. I guess I got some oysters modify my finger now lets I've never been able to get it out. Nobody can figure out where nobody and nowhere. It's a the. You are right to be a warm it says that the aide says a big for an athlete she is just to face the full room where everything but the only bruising shares indeed a living room the room of her world the world with the inmates older Americans doing you say rare bird room by room and thirty years. Me with the marriage the bringing the number being on the merits the favoring the game itself the girl wearing an Arab spring thaw in the compound was indeed on the Israelis and the to you. Forty five of the community the reverse. Cannot. Predict to one star. No backed off if we don't we're going to flow of Banker are you going to fight. For the men and women of the United States Naval Academy the Chesapeake is the birthplace of their careers as military officers. Midshipman Tony Landauer skippers the Academy's sixty eight foot racing the all rattlesnake the most popular bar so the sport of the nap was sailing confronts the members of the team with nearly all of the challenges they will experience in the street. See ever changing Chesapeake Hugo formidable member. Of. We gain a lot of good company. Three years on the chest pickup truck I've been treated better years I've had it's actually fantastic sans water you can't compare it to a lake on the bay I've learned quite a bit of weather learn tides never seen a time before until I got here I've learned current That's something I didn't see too much of in the Great Lakes and how to play that and find a Vegas have learned how to race a big boat and organize a crew. Seriously was all small boats one man to man. Non-working sixteen have to learn how to work with them. And worse than. The midshipmen are heirs to a maritime tradition that began on the Chesapeake and sixteen zero seven in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries men fought for freedom here today the base say says a different price. Located on North America's eastern seaboard the baby appears to be a peaceful place yet it is the scene of ongoing tension between the forces of nature and the deeds of man. Relatively young in the bay is still perceptibly settling its geologic destiny with title regularity its rivers and the seas skirmish for dominion over its waters heated by summer sun chilled by winter when it's an arena of continuous conflict the largest estuary in the United States one of the most biologically bottle systems in the world the Chesapeake as long a track to people to its fertile waters its name is derived from an American Indian word an ingrate shellfish that members of Captain John Smith sixteen zero eight expedition wrote of fish so thick we have tempted to catch them with a frying. One remarkable characteristic of an estuary is its ability to refresh itself. Man's encroachment on the shorelines of the. Just a piece going to distribute carries is severely straining this natural mechanism the bay is being overwhelmed. Yet the Chesapeake embraces realms of unsurpassed prank quality and natural beauty abundant with creatures of the water and of the air it's open reaches provide inspiration and a site for contemplating one's place in the scheme of things. For the commercial Waterman who fish the Chesapeake the vitality of the bay is a matter of survival. Jennings Evans has followed the water for thirty years with his boat and line of wire mesh type Jennings catches the savory a glancing bluegrass It's a skilled learned over a lifetime and passed from father to son. Put it matter of fact Lee Nobody knows anything about a crab just by time you think you've got em all lined up. He disappeared and leave you go. You think sometime you can head in my view for give you five mutating and sometimes you might get you much going on I then again you may know. He's a real genius I would in the driver. Formidable opponent for any one of us I don't care how long you've been into business you really never know the and think the. Guy one of them. To have what you call Moss drove all over you fog you have little black by digging into your skin. Cena get out there and you're working hard also and sometimes a crab laksa took up a sting out from that metal scene of thing or heard on the scanner were almost like bar in the summertime when you're sweating No but any I can imagine the pain. For Jennings really stellar crabbers the hazards are not just physical but economic as well. Aides say you never know what to expect and our passion when are we had a terrible if I had to laugh and age Waterman although he might have a rough season now is always filled with hope for the next week or next month or next year. Nobody can predict the future. But you know in your heart with good friends and. And I'm a bit got a chance to make it. Home for Jennings his family and friends is tiny Smith Island Maryland one of to inhabit it offshore Chesapeake Island mystic distance is entirely dependent on the produce of the bay around crabs in the summer. Why stairs in the winter. Fish whenever they can because the big ifs but not without exacting a price. WIND WAVES and winterize slowly eroded the Island shores and take their toll on it's hard for the people of Smith Island cling to nations flee to their way of life as they have for three hundred years. The store is a focal point of islands so it's all right. Waterman group dies open this door to supplement is and I'm from the water it's a family business. Broken his son began working their crap Shadi around three A.M. here one of the Chesapeake's most sought after delicacies the soft shoulder little brat is fished up from tanks called Crab floats. To grow a crop must periodical a shed its hard shell crabs about the shed called peelers are caught in the bay and brought here. After shutting the new skin is soft for a brief period in the crab may be eaten whole. Always a regional favorite soft crabs are now shipped with nature in wine. By dawn. Route kids on the way to the crabbing grounds for another load of peelers. Groups vote is of a design unique to this part of the Chesapeake known as a scrape boat it is built to work the shallow waters. Favored by the shutting crap I guess have been a lot of money ever since and you know like you know full of right wing crap. That I used to go with my father set they get in your globe. Trek to get to know just going to go get soft crabs and sometimes Granholm he can get on your dragon scrape on the certain tightening catch. The submerged aquatic grasses provide shelter and a feeding ground for the crabs one of a lobbying symptom of the base problem is the rapid decline of these drives. Like generations of island was before him. Root Jr has followed his father on the water. I like to work with that sometimes will gray on everything you know I try to tell me things it's right sometimes I think I know more he knows and I don't so we get along good evening to hard to learn perhaps make some if you don't concentrate at all the time and pay attention where you're at much or done more to go and I still don't know not like these older followers note just thanking few things out for Ma'am I just keep asking a lot of questions just on where you learn. When you're born in or a to pull a solid your life. It's just hard to get out of the. Oven I want to write it or not in the law. The outside world has discovered the island simple charm are growing tourist business. Posters its economy and will forever change its way of life. A family style meal at Francis kitchens house has become a Smith Island tradition. Famous for her crab cakes and home condoms. Francis does it her way are not a long haul and brothers. Oh. Right right. OK. Lets you don't see don't ask for. It. Retired from the water. Francis is husband Ernest many snaps and crab scraped back it's an art known by only a handful of the island's men. Have a story here on the silent night teen eighteen I was born to high seas from where I live now I learned to love people and I love to cook so I built up my own business and I'm still here until the taps runs off of the screws in my head. Yeah when we were first married a dollar bill look configures the bedclothes she went away dragons he stayed six weeks when they come home we had twelve dollars. That's when beefsteak was like twenty five cents to pay and you didn't have a loaf of bread you had to make your own bread we had kerosene so. We had kerosene lamps we had no running water nothing like that it was a big change you better believe it. May boil the way. Things are not like you used to bring the take back their ever man should all do so you can depend on he's worried it was just saying the bias that. You take a lot of rely on around here were sold by the word marriage or no day each. Monday come time for there's a die die larger toll Murray if you are going to have a lot of trouble on their own for people. Solar profit by word of my clothes that they had that much confidence in the God. So you see just how much change now you have to have a lawyer and then you got to get a lawyer for him. My most important thing. In my life is to leave a good background behind. And to let my children my husband my grandchildren know that my life was worth living for things that I have already done. This is Jim is less money grave better believe it's good. For you you got it. Bridge. Two things I like to get back to honest this religion like it used but on the scope. Toward religion. Coders arrested. Since early in the last century when the reverend Joshua Thomas brought Methodism today Island the church has been the major civil and social force on a bright September Sunday the community of friends and relatives joins Francis an earnest catching as they run knew their wedding vows on the occasion of their fiftieth anniversary. Francis when you continue to love comfort and honor you keep him in sickness and in health and remain faithful to him as long as you both shall live you know. Ernest will you continue to love comfort and honor Francis will you keep her in sickness and in health and remain faithful to or as long as you both shall live. My first date with her in it was when I went to school and come in Hong Kong but the meat artists want to walk you home with the I know the way he don't have to walk me home. But they talked me into it save a file expressed and. I I I I I I. You know you. Need. The Chesapeake cast a spell on the handful of families she settled and sure i legit nearly seventeen hundred for the eight hundred descendants of those early settlers fee and Chapman continued. Since before the American Revolution the people of Tangier have taken sustenance from the rich resources of the bay around them. Now ten German are concerned that the base decline is a threat to their self-sufficiency. As teacher and school principal Cheryl Geez spite quaintly has been responsible for the education of three generations of Tangiers children now retired from the school. Spike remains active in his church is a lay minister. The you. Won't. That was good for those of us that were here and this. Land the stormy. You know when you retire after thirty five years. And I have been somewhat I lost especially the last week or so. But. Thanks. For. That's taken the pressure off. Searching the shallows for the elusive crab Spike improves visibility by sprinkling a little fish oil on the water to calm the search. On the water it's more obvious. WALLACE. That's on marvelous place. In terms of the all relationship to eternity. And here on the dial of the looking for cries you're alone you have no interference and you can think in terms of what life is really meaning to you know what it's all about and I find that a very life giving experience raising you can saying in child you're interfering with no one yet your expression that God is hurrying to clear an enlarged and that part of the cried netting process has really been done a patient in may of course I thank also a lot of signs I think it's still I can't help that school is just starting again this is a farce don and thirty five years that I have an open those doors and graded those children any age and that is a part of New York probably David is all of the weird. There's a nice back to live in here on thank their I think that most people probably looking good I asked especially for young think there's a freedom and liberty about children that you don't seem to need you around or playing your up and down the street from one and the other and there's something about this place as a child and I just wouldn't trade for any and especially this is summertime. You. Offer. Oh yes. Drawn irresistibly to the creatures of the day the children of Tangier observe crab Potters like juke Marshall with a mixture of envy and respect for the young man of ten share the urge to follow the water things is fundamental. Oh my gosh you. Know. A drop in zero. Is. Still got a month. Still got a month to crap. On my. Web server Well two months already dropped in on base and. You're going to finish kill. Huddle like oh if did not like quit now was why the crab pots. Crockpot almost like you're going to do. Yeah. You better right away don't. Children here have of have a marvelous freedom and liberty. Knowledge their approach their teens we must admit that there's a great encroachment from outside. That's changing the whole atmosphere the whole culture of this awful television science potations communications and laid off of what God is such now that there's no longer any bag. Series around us even thirty forty years. Like necessary back both and keep it outside out and keeping those scenes here with us today. Peers in there came the growth they have Fastow they have fast cars and they go learn to play and they look at a basketball game and Philadelphia New York this weekend and they look at Entertainment Expo from Norfolk over the weekend. When I was sixteen seventeen years old up to the been a fantastic journey. So there's a vast change and in the whole outlook today for my get well and I like to have fun I mean I get Office on I mean you know we have so much for your only because they know by hours they know. The women to his style a lot of the you know everybody around here and all my own effort. How Old Yeller from the get go and you've got a boyfriend you have to take him home today to me can be the way it is around here I guess play always the soul and I want to have fun I just leaving go to Chris Bill running our other than the I like get a lawyer. In the eighteen seventies crispy old Maryland was a seafood boomtown literally built on the shelves of oysters harvested in the region. Chris Field now project so as to grab capital of the world. To grab industry handily contributes millions of dollars to the region's economy. Intense competition and seasonal fluctuations in grabs in market prices contribute to the waterman's fear that the businesses from hiring and crabs may decline as did the eye surgeon fin fish one ship from first field by the box car load. It's what you heard. From. When picking crabs is tedious work performed by skilled and experienced staff. Nimble fingers and sharp knives are gradually being replaced by modern machines. The from. Your book. Perhaps. Rare. You. In the race war it has been picking crimes for fifteen years. Paid per pound of meat thinks she is founded a satisfying livelihood. I'm Joe I think in craves I enjoy it when I don't. But for my children I don't want them to have to to do depend on this for their lives because I came up the hard way and I want them the man to pick Chris suck for us do all this kind of work because one day the might have come back to it but I do want them to get the paper in the book learn and then I want the most a lot to fear God and treat people right. You might actually be a blessing to someone else. And where the lack of blessed somewhere now. Factor to waste so. We want to hear the weather we don't want to hear. A. Good day.
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